LGBT Folks Lack Health Coverage

Dr. Gary Gates

Dr. Gary Gates

LGBT people are more likely than their straight peers to not have health insurance, according to a new study.

Of those surveyed, 17.6 percent of LGBT people said they did not have health insurance, while 13.2 percent of non-LGBT adults could say the same.

“A stereotype of economic advantage persists in both media and public perceptions of the LGBT community,” Dr. Gary Gates said. “These findings really challenge that stereotype and show that disparities in health and well-being associated with sexual orientation and gender identity may be in part due to limited economic resources among LGBT individuals.”

Gates is a demographer at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law’s Williams Institute. He based his research on numbers from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey, one of the largest of its kind looking at the health of LGBT people.

More than 6,000 LGBT people 18 and older and 166,000 non-LGBT adults were interviewed, bringing about stark differences in the lives of the two populations.

When asked if they didn’t have enough money to pay for healthcare or medicine at any point in the last year, 25 percent of LGBT people said yes, while only 17 percent of non-LGBT people said the same.

In both categories, women were more likely to not have health insurance, especially in LGBT women, who had 10 percentage points more than straight women.

Being an expert in LGBT demographics, Gates said he was not surprised by the findings. However, there have been improvements in just the last year. Both populations experienced an uptick in healthcare coverage after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” earlier this year.

Since the end of 2013, the percentage of uninsured LGBT adults dropped 4.4 percent, and for non-LGBT adults, it dropped 3.5 percent.

“These analyses suggest that many LGBT Americans likely look advantage of the ACA open enrollment, and the law may have helped to slightly narrow the gap in health insurance coverage between LGBT and non-LGBT individuals in the US,” Gates said.

But why are LGBT less likely to have health insurance? Gates says it’s a number of factors, making the solution a tough one to come by. A combination of economic disparity, stigma, and discrimination by healthcare workers has been a long-stnading barttle by the LGBT community.

“Efforts to improve the training and sensitivity of health care providers about the unique healthcare needs of the LGBT population are certainly needed,” he said. “So too are developing strategies to alleviate economic disadvantage associated with sexual orientation and gender identity.”

 

Originally published in South Florida Gay News.

 

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